And this is why a home with just one bathroom makes many recoil in horror.
Nonetheless, plenty of home buyers, especially younger ones, may find themselves perusing listings with one sole bathroom and have to ponder this uncomfortable possibility: Is one bathroom enough? It may seem OK if you’re single (or part of a very close couple), but how will this work if you have kids, or guests?
To help you understand what having a one-bathroom home is truly like, we spoke to a handful of homeowners who’ve made do with this living scenario and lived to tell the tale. Here are a few realities to prepare for—plus some helpful advice on how to make it work.
‘It’s a miracle we didn’t kill each other’
“If we’ve been on a lengthy road trip, we all fight to get to the commode first,” says Margaret Hayes, who lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two teenage children—and just one bathroom.
Sometimes, this calls for some backup measures.
“I once went to our next-door neighbor’s house to use the toilet,” Wallace recalls.
Who showers first?
To share one bathroom with a lot of people, many families create a shower schedule to ensure everyone gets their turn. Wallace says she and her sister typically showered in the evening (so they would have time to wash their hair), and her older brothers showered in the morning.
“There was a bit of jockeying, but gender grouping usually solved that,” she says.
Jennifer Snyder’s family used a different approach.
“When I had two [school-aged children] and a toddler at home, we had a distinct order in which we showered, and most of that was based on bedtime,” says Snyder, whose family of five lived in a one-bathroom home in Waco, TX, for nearly 20 years.
Moreover, many families are concerned the hot water will run out —and that someone will be faced with the uncomfortable indignity of an ice-cold shower. Hayes says her family developed a system to address this.
Whose stuff goes where?
Jennifer Terry of Oxford, PA, knows this firsthand. Last year, her house of six shared only one full bathroom.
“At one point my husband counted 25 items—shampoo, conditioner bottles, loofahs, razors, etc.—in the shower,” she says.
(For more ideas, check out these bathroom organization tips from professional organizer Mim King.)
“Decorating the small space is nearly impossible,” says Hayes. “Forget about cute soap dishes or framed needlework doilies. We can’t even all hang up our bath towels simultaneously.”
The trouble of having guests over
Lisa Wells lives with her husband and son in an apartment in New York City with one bathroom. Granted, three people to a bathroom may not sound like a big deal (especially when compared with the other families we spoke to), but Wells says the setup still presents issues when family and friends visit.
“The biggest challenge is having your family bathroom serve as a ‘powder room’ when company comes over,” says Wells. “Everything is taken out for the event, candles are lit, hand towels are fanned out—and then when guests leave, everything is swapped out again. It’s a weird mix of personal and private.”
Moral of the story? Plenty of people live in one-bathroom homes, and they get by (and along) just fine, which proves that you can do it, too. So, don’t knock those one-bathroom homes, guys! Or, if you absolutely can’t live with just one, consider a 1.5-bath home instead.